The State of Women’s Football

The BBC has been running this story on its front page since last night, possibly assuming more than a dozen people give a shit:

Mark Sampson has been sacked as England women’s manager following evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.

The Football Association says that last week it was made aware of the full details of safeguarding allegations made against Sampson in 2014 relating to his time as Bristol Academy manager.

Mark who? Oh, right. Okay. Women’s football. Sorry, where did I leave my paint-drying specs?

Saying that, I found the article illuminating but probably not in the way the BBC would want me to.

Sampson was also cleared this year of wrongdoing following discrimination allegations made by England [women] players, including Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko.

The concerns Eni Aluko raised were about perceived bullying and perceived racism. We have investigated those properly, there have been two separate investigations actually which have broadly concluded there’s no systematic evidence for that.

Top-flight women footballer complains about bullying and racism from her male coach. Subsequent investigation turns up no evidence to support the complaint. We then get a timeline (emphasis mine):

December 2013: Sampson becomes England manager having left Bristol Academy

May 2016: England forward Eniola Aluko is asked to participate in a cultural review of all England teams by the FA’s technical director Dan Ashworth.

December 2016: An independent investigation, led by barrister Katharine Newton, hears Aluko’s claims that during a meeting in 2015, Sampson made a “highly inappropriate remark”.

March 2017: The independent review clears Sampson and his staff of wrongdoing but it is understood that Aluko was paid £80,000 in a confidentiality agreement.

13 September 2017: FA says it received the full safeguarding review panel report on the allegations against Sampson.

14 September 2017: The FA says it could re-open its investigation into racism claims against Sampson after further evidence is submitted.

20 September 2017: Sampson sacked by FA

I’m building up a picture here. Are you?

Last week, the FA announced it was to re-open its investigation into separate discrimination claims against Sampson, first made in 2016.

Sampson was alleged to have asked mixed race England midfielder Drew Spence whether she had been arrested during a tournament in 2015, a claim which he denied.

The horrors!

The claim was first made by Spence’s England and Chelsea team-mate Aluko, and Spence has now submitted written evidence to support it.

In a further separate allegation, Aluko said Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not “bring Ebola” to an England game at Wembley in 2014.

Her background is Nigerian, eh?

Two investigations – one internal FA inquiry and one independent review led by barrister Katharine Newton – cleared Sampson of any wrongdoing.

He’s been cleared by two separate investigations, yet people are still unhappy.

Senior FA executives are set to face a parliamentary inquiry over the investigations after Aluko initially raised a “bullying and harassment” grievance against Sampson in response to an internal cultural review.

Parliamentary inquiries, investigations, grievances, internal cultural reviews? There is an entire sub-industry operating in women’s football it seems. Why, it’s almost as if…

Aluko, who has 102 caps and is a qualified lawyer…

Ah, they beat me to it.

Remember folks, this is a sport we’re constantly being encouraged to take seriously. Frankly, my solution would be to appoint a woman as the next England coach and let them get on with whatever the hell they want. Just don’t keep shoving stories about it under my nose, if I wanted high-drama about a load of women I’d watch Desperate Housewives.

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13 thoughts on “The State of Women’s Football

  1. It’s the craven cowardice of the FA that really stinks.Aluko or her fem cheerleaders have been agitating in the press in recent weeks. Rather than face them down after 2 inquiries the FA find a report from 2015 and use it to remove Sampson. Looks like a PR exercise to limit any damage. Bell Pottinger were probably in charge!

  2. One moral of the story is never appoint a trained lawyer to any position which doesn’t specify a trained lawyer in the job description. Every conceivable problem, real or imaginary, is a nail and their only tool is a sledgehammer.

  3. “never appoint a trained lawyer to any position which doesn’t specify a trained lawyer in the job description”: oh I dunno. Mrs T did rather well.

  4. I hope Sampson has grounds to sue the FA. Although bearing in mind their behaviour hear I’d guess he has grounds to believe he could scare a few quid out of them.

  5. Mrs T did rather well.

    But wasn’t she a chemist (and of some distinction, apparently) before going over to the dark side?

  6. But wasn’t she a chemist

    No, women don’t go into STEM subjects, they’re kept out by the patriarchy. It’s why she never got anywhere in politics, too. #feminism101

  7. … women don’t go into STEM subjects …

    Well, Thatch wasn’t a real woman, anyway, was she? Not with all that badthink.

  8. O/T, probably wildly, but just got bored with ignoring Sky News, so decided to ignore Film4 instead.

    Amazingly, they’re showing The Best of Benny Hill.

    What?

  9. The problem is going to grow for any professional sport where a PoC (their term, not mine) has to be treated differently by the non PoC (aka white trash). Anyone who has been anywhere near any form of sport at any level knows that banter, sledging, back-biting, swearing, practical jokes, ribald comments and various pranks are the essence of team life if not unity. Increasingly however anything that could in any shape or form or hint at being even vaguely suggestive of not adhering to any current anti-slavery, post-colonial lefty trope-cum-dogma is going to be a problem.

    I don’t know what Sampson said and maybe he did or he didn’t mean he hated the origins of PoC, or maybe he thought a joke would be well received. For that he is undoubtedly guilty. Future England managers of any sex, gender, beliefs, persuasion and opinion had better watch out; you can be sued, dismissed and villified for being ‘insensitive,’ Better to lose a game than upset someone with words.

    (PS I am reminded of Ron Atkinson’s famous on-air comment when the microphone wasn’t switched off about a black player being lazy. As far as I can recall he said something along the lines of that was why people called that player lazy. I don’t think he said he agreed fully or that he endorsed the view, just that there were people who said that — though yes, the implication was he did think so too. Anyway that was the end of Big Ron’s broadcasting career as he really should have used a platitude like ‘he will be disappointed with the effort he put in’ or ‘it’s a game of two halves’ or something vague)

    PPS I watched England women beat Russia 6-0. Damn, if only the men could play that way…

  10. Anyway that was the end of Big Ron’s broadcasting career

    Ah yes, and some wag did come up with this image which did make me laugh:

  11. @Watcher – in the UK, I have not seen too much race-related conflict in professional sport. Non-white England cricket & rugby players seem to have generally just got on and got on with it.

    I did see former England cricketer Chris Lewis having a bit of a moan in the Guardian about being misunderstood but A) he was always a bit ‘difficult’ B) the Graun would inevitably focus on that sort of thing, even if it was 3 mins out of a 2 hr interview and C) if you are concerned about stereotyping of Black Brits, don’t get nicked smuggling cocaine from Jamaica!

  12. in the UK, I have not seen too much race-related conflict in professional sport.

    Same here. This issue of racism and bulling in football seems so far to be unique to the women’s team.

    Non-white England cricket & rugby players seem to have generally just got on and got on with it.

    Indeed, dating back years. The rugby league teams in the 1980s and 1990s were full of black players, Ellery Hanley was even captain of the GB side.

    if you are concerned about stereotyping of Black Brits, don’t get nicked smuggling cocaine from Jamaica!

    Lol, exactly!

    Also, John Barnes had a moan about how it was racism that forced him out of football management, rather than poor results.

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